Fear and Blogging In London…or Las Vegas or…

26 Jan

Good morning from London where I’ve spent the last couple of days at a conference and one day being absolutely overwhelmed as a tourist. I get panicked in large crowds and London has them everywhere! I know that large crowds are a fear of mine so I’m not complaining about the crowds. I have to go out and overcome my fear. That’s exactly what I did yesterday when I took the subway then walked to the British Museum (big thanks to my friend Denise for letting me vent my anxiety via Facebook messaging later).

What’s Your Social Fear?

Crowds are my biggest social fear. For some people sharing their ideas is their social fear.

Putting your ideas “out there” for the world to read on your blog is can be a scary thing. Anything can happen after you hit the “post” button and release your ideas into the wild. This is what leads some of us to scale back our ideas, to not reveal everything, or to be too politically correct. This is something that I just realized about myself in the last six months or so. This has caused me to not promote my workshops and webinars as much as I could have. In fact, in thinking back on it I let one comment from one person on my Facebook page crush me back on the promotion of my workshops and webinars.

Free Technology for Teachers is not an opinion blog. Sure, I offer my thoughts about how I would use a particular app, but I rarely say anything about hot-button issues in education. I haven’t wanted to go there. I’ve built Free Technology for Teachers around the model of providing lots of information, some ideas, and then hoping for pageviews to in turn lead to good advertising revenue (again, I didn’t have a clue what I was doing when I started in 2007). It’s worked for me, but if I had to start all over again I’m not sure I would go with that model. The blogging model I use on Free Technology for Teachers demands that I post new content every day in order to compete for eyeballs and in turn ad revenue. As Seth Godin has written many times, it’s better to have a small tribe of loyal fans than it is to have a massive audience that is less engaged. So if I were to start over, as I am kind of doing with Worms In the Fridge, I would focus more on building that small tribe of loyal fans than competing for the fleeting attention of millions. Small tribes can be very powerful and in turn attract more people.

Building that loyal following of a small tribe means that people need to know what you really think about certain topics. For example, if you really want to know, I hate writing “list posts” because it’s a cheap SEO ploy and most of the lists don’t offer much in the way of new information. I much prefer to write “how to” posts that teachers can really learn from. I do write list posts on Free Technology for Teachers only to compete with a couple of blogs that have come along in the last couple years that seem to only write headlines for SEO. You’ve seen those blogs, every post seems to be a list with a title along the lines of 71 awesome ways to make Common Core your best friend. 70 of those ways usually suck. Either that or it’s just an infographic which usually comes from a link farm that sucks too.

I have to thank Doug Johnson for the previous paragraph. Doug recently challenged my thinking on the idea of posting opinions. Doug writes, “If you aren’t making your readers mad sometimes, you probably are playing it too safe.” He’s right. It’s because of Doug that I included the part about hating list posts in the previous paragraph and removed the following from the preceding paragraph,

The only infographics I share these days come from Cool Infographics which actually critiques infographics for quality of design and information. By the way, the Cool Infographics book is a great resource for information about visual design.

In a lot of cases we’re too quick to apologize or “pre-apologize” for our opinions. Besides Doug’s recent post, I’ve also been inspired by Erika Napoletano’s book The Power of Unpopular along with years of reading her blog. Her language might be a bit coarse for some readers, truth be told it bugs me at times, but she is unapologetically Erika.

I won’t say “don’t worry about what people will say” because I’m well aware that for some people “not worrying about what people say” is as hard as it is for me to navigate huge crowds on my own. Instead I’ll say this…put your ideas out there and overcome your fear of what people will say.

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  • http://www.vetrunnah.com/ Harold

    Richard – it is good too see you moving beyond the restrictions you have placed upon yourself in FTFT with this blog. Hopefully, you will find it liberating and create a smaller “tribe” that will allow you the freedom to challenge them, not just give them the information and walk on by. Yes, I still follow your blog(s) after all these years and I look forward to seeing where this one leads you. Good luck and enjoy the choices that you will now be able to make and the challenges that you will have to overcome. Just remember don’t feed the trolls and don’t let them see the light of day on your blog, because it is your blog, not their’s. Have fun and enjoy. 🙂

    • richardbyrne

      Hi Harold,
      It’s great to hear from you. Thank you for continuing to follow my blogs even after you’ve retired from the classroom.
      As I mentioned on Twitter, you win for best blogging advice of the day with the reminder to “not feed the trolls.”
      I hope we can catch up again soon.

      • http://www.vetrunnah.com/ Harold

        I would like that, DM me on Twitter, when your schedule is such that you can get away for a quick lunch 🙂

  • Mareena Kohtala

    Just stumbled upon your blog as I sit and try to finish grad school work on my last night in London. A peer of mine reflected on your post about the “21st century teacher” label. I looked it up, realized I follow you on twitter, and then saw that you too were/are in London. The network of connected educators really is pretty awesome. Hope you enjoyed your trip!

    • richardbyrne

      Hi Mareena,
      I’m glad you found me. London had some highs and lows for me. I learned a lot for the next time I visit.

  • http://www.erikanapoletano.com/ Erika Napoletano

    Thank you for the shout out for my book. And while my language might not change, isn’t it funny how the right people can pick up what I’m putting down despite it? 🙂

    • richardbyrne

      You’re welcome. We all have to find what works best for us to reach the audience we want. Clearly you’ve reached an audience that likes what you’re saying even if we don’t always love the way it’s said 🙂

  • http://www.lessonsloveandlaughter.com/ Lori Breyfogle

    Wow! What a personal post. Thanks! I am new to blogging and I really appreciate your honesty and new resolution to stick to your blogging gut. I love what you said about holding back. I am usually the person who will speak up in a class or PD session, and over the years have found myself keeping ideas in and trying not to be the person who always has something to share. I do not want to feel that way anymore, and I hope that my blog will be a great place for me to share.

    I have been a big fan of your FTFT blog for years and recommend it often. However, I don’t like list posts either. Too many people take what is written as gospel without questioning or taking a deeper look into the information. I appreciate the how-to’s, because I feel like I truly learned something new that I can apply to my teaching, blogging, or other techy adventures.